Guatemala is a hidden gem among tourists, and a perfect destination for those interested in an authentic cultural immersion experience.
While gaping at the expansive landscapes, exploring volcanoes, and becoming entranced by the colorful artisan crafts of the Mayans, volunteering in Guatemala has become another point of interest for those seeking a more fulfilling travel experience.
It is no secret that Guatemala’s government struggles to provide adequate resources to their citizens. Being the biggest country in Central America, with the largest economy, it’s baffling to realize that over half of the people live in poverty. While the tourist industry booms, the common people suffer.
So if you are looking to volunteer abroad, Guatemala is a great place to start. There are projects for every type of personality, skill, and interest, so knowing your options is a great starting point. Check out these top volunteer projects in Guatemala, and make your next trip a reason to get involved.
Top Volunteer Projects in Guatemala
Working with Kids
Working with kids is a great option for those with a big heart, childlike imagination, and the patience of a zen master! You might be placed in a childcare facility, after-school program, or a government-run orphanage.
Work usually involves caring for a group of 3-5 children, providing as much individual attention as possible, helping with homework and school assignments, an engaging kids in educational and extracurricular activities.
Volunteers who work with kids can expect a background check, and must comply by all of the rules of their placement.
Some sites have strict policies which prohibit volunteers from snapping photos of the children. This is for the child’s safety, and therefore if you’re interested in instagramming your experience, then this project probably isn’t for you. However, photo opps are permitted, and sometimes encouraged in sustainability projects.
Conservation & Sustainability
Conservation and sustainability projects focus on environmental protection. Depending on the project, you might help with reforestation, sea turtle conservation, clean up efforts in some of the most beautiful ecosystems, or community education and outreach.
The purpose of these volunteer projects are to reverse the damaging effects caused by human behavior and bad habits. Is it too late? Never. Volunteering with a conservation/sustainability project will spark the hope you’re seeking. You realize how many people are passionate about working together to save the planet.
There are no shortage of local projects around the world dedicated to their work. Volunteers are often the backbone which help to keep these often underfunded projects working.
With Guatemala’s vast diversity, there are options for turtle conservation, or clean up and outreach at beautiful Lake Atitlan.
Animals & Wildlife
If you’re an animal lover, try an animal and wildlife project. Whether you’re interested in caring for our furry friends, or you’re more interested in working with exotic reptiles, Guatemala has a project for you!
Latin America is known for the stray dog population. These dogs often go uncared for attracting leeches as they scour for leftovers, and seek shelter during storms.
Thanks to the local dog shelters, many of these roaming strays are taken in for full vet care and then placed with a loving family. Volunteers who choose to work in the dog shelters can expect to help with cage cleaning, feeding, basic obedience training, and bonding on walks.
The exotic care center focuses on the rehabilitation and recovery of wild reptiles. Volunteers might get involved with daily maintenance of the center, feeding, cage cleaning, and conservation work as needed.
For an in-your-face impact, try a construction project. Construction projects work to help renovate or construct needed facilities in under-developed communities.
Many families living in the rural outskirts of Guatemala have little-to-no access to educational and healthcare facilities. This puts the population at risk for unemployment and preventable health issues.
Construction projects place volunteers with a local foreman who guides you through the tasks at hand. From digging to building, mixing, or painting, every role is necessary in the construction project. The final development might be a school, healthcare clinic, home or orphanage.
If you’re a person who likes to witness the outcome of your work in just a few short hours, a construction project might be perfect for you.
FAVORITE CENTRAL AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES! CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓
SPREAD THE WORD!! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓
If You Liked This Post You May Also Like:
Photo credits: Featured photo by Australia High Commission, Suva via DFAT. Working with kids by Idex World. Lost sea turtle by Lauren Vonnahme/Ga. DNR for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. Construction by by Jim Holmes for AusAID via DFAT Australian Aid.